DEPARTURE FROM NUNGOROME COVE. ACCOUNT OF SOLOMON. DRIFT-ICE.
CAPE MUGFORD. WATERFALLS FROM THE KAUMAYOK MOUNTAINS.
FRUITLESS ATTEMPTS TO GET OUT OF THE IKKERASAK, OR STRAITS.
NUNGOROME is a cove on the south side of the Island Pacharvik. Between this island the main land is a narrow strait, so shallow that no whales can pass. The Esquimaux stretch their nets across, to catch seals, seeking shelter in it when the wind sets in from the open sea. They can only be taken in the night, and the greater part of those which frequent this coast are of the KAIROLIK kind, a middle-sized animal, and of the UGSUK, the largest species of the seal tribe, weighing sometimes from five to six cwt.
The Esquimaux belonging to our congregation, who were at present stationed here, in tents, were MOSES, SAMUEL, THOMAS, ISAAC, BAMMIUK, and their families. SOLOMON, who has left our communion, was also here. He had formerly been a communicant member of Okkak congregation, but could not resist the temptation of going to the north to feast with the heathen Esquimaux, whenever they had caught /11/ a live, or found a dead whale. On such occasions he was seduced to commit many irregularities and sins, but always returned to us with a show of great contrition and repentance. After many relapses, he was informed, that this would do no longer, but that if he went again to these heathenish feasts, he would be excluded. He is a sensible, well-disposed man, and perceived the justice of the sentence; but his love of that species of amusement overcame all his good resolutions. He not only went again, but took also another wife; a step which, of course, excluded him from our fellowship. Yet he is very desirous that his children may receive a Christian education, and remain faithful to the precepts of the gospel.
25th. Brother Kmoch rose at half past one in the morning, and suffering the rest to sleep on, got breakfast ready; he then fired his piece, by which Brother Kohlmeister and all the Esquimaux, young and old, were suddenly roused from their slumbers. Not one, however, regretted the unexpected interruption to their pleasant dreams, on beholding the sea quite free from ice, with a fine morning and fair wind; but after yawning, stretching, and shaking themselves as usual, the Esquimaux with great good humour got ready, and we set sail at half past three. Passed Pacharvik Island at four. Bammiuk and Solomon accompanied us as far as the North Ikkerasak (the Esquimaux name for a strait) between Cape Mugford Island, in 58 degrees North latitude, and the mountains of Kaumayok. Their being in company retarded our progress, but in the sequel proved no disadvantage.
About nine, we entered the straits, and perceiving at a distance much drift-ice a-head, cast anchor, and Brother Kmoch and Jonas landed on Cape Mugford Island. An Esquimaux, called NIAKUNGETOK, accompanied them to the top of an eminence, from whence the outer opening of the Ikkerasak was seen. They perceived the ice driving into it from the sea in such quantities as to threaten to close it up.
Cape Mugford is an high island, extending far into the /12/ ocean, and the northern land-mark in steering for Okkak, KIGLAPEIT promontory bearing south, and the Saddle-island appearing right before the entrance of the bay. On their return to the boat, the wind veered to the north, and we steered for a dwelling-place of the Esquimaux, about twenty miles from Okkak, called UKKUARARSUK. To our great joy the ice began now to drive out again to sea, and we resolved to go with it. A gentle S.W. wind brought us to the place, where we had before anchored, but we were now beset with large fields of ice, among which we tacked, till we had nearly cleared the straits, when the great quantity of surrounding ice, pressing upon us, prevented our making further attempts, and we were compelled to work our way back with oars and boat-hooks.
On Cape Mugford Island we now discovered more Esquimaux, who by signs directed our course towards a convenient harbour, near their dwellings, which we reached in safety.
The Esquimaux pitched their tents on shore, but we slept on board.
The situation of this place is remarkably beautiful. The strait is about an English mile broad, and four or five in length. Both shores are lined with precipitous rocks, which in many places rise to a tremendous height, particularly on the Kaumayok side, from whence several waterfalls rush into the sea, with a roar, which quite fills the air. The singular appearance of these cataracts is greatly increased when illuminated by the rising sun, the spray exhibiting the most beautiful prismatic colours. Below them huge masses of ice are formed, which seem to lean against the sides of the rocks, and to be continually increasing during the winter, but when melted by the power of a summer's sun, and disengaged by their weight, are carried off by the tides, and help to form floating ice-mountains. The coast lies S.W. by N.E.
/13/ 26th. Being detained here by the state of the ice, and the weather fine and warm, Brother Kmoch and Ogiksuk rowed across the straits to the nearest great cataract, and were able, notwithstanding the steepness of the ascent, to get pretty close to it. It falls fifty or sixty feet perpendicular, and the noise is terrible. The spray ascending from it, like the steam of a huge cauldron, wetted the travellers completely. They amused themselves some time by rolling large stones into the fall, which by its force were carried along towards the sea, down the sloping torrent below. Our people meanwhile caught three seals, and made a hearty meal, of which we also partook, hunger, on this occasion, overcoming our dislike to seal's flesh. A sallad of scurvy-grass was made for supper.
27th. We left this harbour about four A.M. with a favourable wind at West, but as it soon died away, we took to our oars, and reached the north point of Kaumayok, at the northern extremity of the strait. By an observation taken by Brother Kohlmeister, this point is situated in 57 degrees 59 minutes North latitude. Though calm, there was a great swell from the sea, and the rolling of the boat affected our brave captain not a little, to the diversion of the other Esquimaux. About two P.M. the wind shifted to the N.W. By tacking we got to Kupperlik, about the middle of Kaumayok, but having the skin-boat in tow, could not weather the point, and were at length obliged to return to our former anchorage in the strait.
28th. The wind being North we could not proceed. We therefore ascended the mountain of Cape Mugford. It is a barren rock, though here and there a solitary plant or a tuft of moss clings to its steep sides, and is difficult of access. The numerous waterfalls on the Kaumayok, which still rose above us, were full in view, and we now discovered several small lakes which supply them. Some of them fall from a great height perpendicularly into the sea.
/14/ We could here discern the island of Okkak, to the S.W. to the East, the boundless ocean, and to the N.E. three high, barren, and steep islands, called Nennoktuts by the Esquimaux, (White Mountains.)